Sunday, February 22, 2015

I can smile when things ain't funny

"Laughing Boy," published in 1929, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1930. Oliver La Farge 1901-1920 is the writer.

The story is a good depiction of Navajo life and the coming of age of "Laughing Boy," a young Navajo Indian who meets Slim Girl at a ceremonial Indian dance. They fall in love and marry against his family's wishes.

Laughing Boy is an innocent and loves horses, tribal dances and competition of all kinds. After he wins events at the ceremonial dance when he met Slim Girl, he is coerced into gambling the money and his horse away.  When chided by Slim Girl, Laughing Boy tells her that it doesn't matter because winning and loosing were the source of his pleasure.

Slim Girl went to an American school and was given the school name, Lily. The central conflicts in the story deal with Laughing Boy and Slim Girl's dealing with American culture.  At one point, Laughing Boy and his friends arrive at an Indian trading post. He brags to his friends that he could get the owner to give them free coffee. Then he pretends that he is going to make major purchases from the trader, who offers the coffee as he totals the bill. After getting the coffee, he smiles and tells the owner that he changed his mind, then wonders why the owner became angry.

What Laughing Boy doesn't realize is that Slim Girl is leading a double life. She spends time as the married wife of Laughing Boy and also with an American.

I found the story to be entertaining as depicting a segment of American life but never became too involved in the story. With the different ways that Indians behaved and lived their lives, it was difficult to empathise with their dilemma. Also, with all of the Indian names, there were times that I couldn't tell if the characters were members of Laughing Boy's clan and if the names were real names or nicknames.


Topazshell said...

I always enjoy your reviews. Hope you're doing well. Feels good to visit here once again.

Carol N Wong said...

Thank you for your review. I once knew an America Indian in one of classes at the YMCA. Her name was Kick in the Back.

Michael Draper said...

Carol; Indian names are fun. I couldn't tell if these were real names or the nicknames the Indians were using. Anyway, it created some amusing moments.

Tea: Thanks for visiting. I've missed your reactions to my reviews.


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